Writing Regularly Has Mental Health Benefits
Writing can do wonders for your health. Beyond keeping your creative juices flowing, regular writing can give you an emotional release valve for the stresses of your everyday life. Keeping a journal can do wonders for your self-esteem. Not only does regular writing make you feel better, it helps you re-live the events you experienced in a safe environment where you can process them without fear or stress.
In fact, there is so much data on the mental and emotional benefits of journaling that social workers, counselors, and therapists often motivate their patients to do it. This study in the journal Advances in Psychiatric Treatment is a great experiment, and a solid summary of current research on the subject. In the piece, the researchers noted that 15–20 minutes on 3–5 occasions was enough to help the study participants cope with traumatic, stressful, or emotional events. It is particularly effective in people with serious illnesses such as cancer as an example. In fact, the application is so well regarded, there is a Center for Journal Therapy dedicated to mental health benefits of journaling regularly, both therapeutic and personal settings.
It’s not just what you write about though. The way you write plays a role too. This study from the University of Iowa showed that journaling about stressful events helped participants cope with the events they experienced. The key, however, was to focus on what you think and feel, as opposed to your feelings. In short, you get the best benefits of daily writing by telling your personal story, not writing about your feelings on themselves. It is an excellent example of how telling your own personal story can make a big difference in your well-being.